Filipino youth reduce inequality, contribute to economic growth
by Mai Zamora and Karen Joy Alcober, Plan International Communications Officer
Emily, Raymond, Ariel and Mark from Eastern Visayas have begun to notice the ripple effect of the eco-nomic empowerment they’ve received to their family and community.
“The skills I learned from the training has opened up opportunities for me. I now have a job that feeds my family and sends my younger sibling to school,” 24-year-old Emily says.
Emily is a high school graduate who used to be unemployed. She lives in one of the far-flung communi-ties in Leyte and works in one of the leading fast food chains in Tacloban City.
“When I was not yet working, I felt insecure and frustrated that I was not a college graduate. I didn’t have the support of my parents because for them, sending daughters to school would be useless since we would just end up marrying and staying at home,” she adds.
Raymond, Ariel and Mark, better known as the RAM boys in their community, are three young success-ful entrepreneurs who sell fish at one of the markets in Tacloban City. They employ other young people to help them with their business as well.
“If we were not given the capital to start our business, we might still be dependent on our parents - ask-ing money to buy our needs, including food for our children,” says Raymond, also 24 years old.
He added, “When we were given the opportunity to put up a business, everything changed. We were empowered and felt trusted by our wives, parents and even the community. We can buy what we want and provide for our families.”
Emily and the RAM boys are only 4 of the almost 4,000 young people who belong to the vulnerable and marginalized groups that were given employment opportunities though Plan International’s Youth Eco-nomic and Empowerment (YEE) program.
More than a million Filipino youth are jobless
Based on the 2016 Labor Force Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority, there are still more than a million Filipino youth from the age group of 15 to 24 years old who are jobless. Most of the unemployed youth have not received a college education.
Plan International, through its YEE program, hopes to contribute to reduce youth unemployment in the Philippines. Young people who want to be employed are trained on courses that are in-demand and market-driven. Those who want to be self-employed are provided capital to start their own business.
The organization has been working closely with the government through the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and various agencies to provide employability skills and livelihood training for those who are living in difficult situations. This includes those who are out-of-school, have disabilities, are part of female-headed households, are young parents, are part of elderly-headed households and those affected by disasters.
“Before getting the youth employed and providing them with start-up business capital, Plan International works with them, preparing them through so-called ‘soft skills’ such as analytical thinking and commu-nications skills, financial literacy, digital literacy, family planning, safe migration and disability inclusion awareness,” says Emilio Paz, Plan International Livelihood Advisor.
Plan International also conducts Youth Employment Solutions Monitoring and Evaluation (YESME) where the youth are tracked and traced from the time they are enrolled to the program until they get employment.
Skilled youth are less of a priority
However, even with the initiatives available to them, and despite having national certification for their employability skills, the youth still have difficulties in finding decent work.
“In the Philippines, we still have limited awareness and appreciation of the real value of technical skills education. We must change this,” says Cleta Omega, Regional Director of TESDA in Eastern Visayas. Plan International calls on the government and private sectors to open their doors to young people and invest in youth economic empowerment.
“If the youth are given the opportunity, they can play a full and meaningful part in society; be resilient to disaster; and veer away from all forms of inequality and injustice. They are a valuable resource for our nation. If more employers play an active role in developing the youth, more young people will have bet-ter employment opportunities in the future,” adds Paz .
Youth will step up if given the right skills
National Youth Commission, through the leadership of its chairperson, Aiza Seguerra, has expressed interest in getting to know Plan International’s program on YEE and meeting the successful young peo-ple it has produced.
“NYC prioritizes programs on education, health and youth participation and now we are working on how we can address the issues of youth unemployment. This is an opportunity for Plan International and NYC to collaborate as our dream is to reach out and respond to the needs of the youth at the grass-roots,” says Seguerra.
Chairperson Seguerra calls on fellow government officials to provide young people the right skills and opportunities they need. “Let us teach them how to improve their lives because I know the youth will step up,” adds Seguerra.